Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we're all still looking for telltale signs and symptoms that we might have come down with the virus. By now, everyone knows such unique signs such as a loss of smell and taste, but did you know that many other symptoms of COVID can actually be found in your mouth?
Yup, there are several things to watch out for when you are performing your daily oral hygiene, or even just going about your regular business, drinking and eating your favorite foods and beverages. If you notice any of these particular conditions, it's a good idea to share your concerns with your doctor, and/or get a coronavirus test to determine for sure if you have been infected with COVID.
Is your tongue looking weird lately? Dr. Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College London, recently tweeted out a photo of a funky-looking tongue covered in white patches and explained that "COVID tongue" is a less common symptom that is nevertheless increasing in numbers.
The white coloration comes from inflammation affecting the surface of the tongue, which could theoretically come about from the virus affecting the mouth area. This isn't an official COVID symptom reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but as Spector urges, "if you have a strange symptom ... stay at home!"
Ouch. Drinking orange juice hurts! If you're wincing after downing your usual glass of juice at breakfast, you might have a sore inside your mouth. And, according to doctors, an ulcerated mouth can be a sign of COVID. A Spanish study in JAMA Dermatology last summer took a look at rashes that occur on mucous membranes (such as those in the mouth), which are called enanthem. Nearly a third of their sample patient group with COVID had these rashes, which can commonly present with viral infections. That means enanthem can occur with other such conditions such as chicken pox or hand, foot and mouth disease as well. Get it checked out!
Why does everything taste so gross? Before you lose your sense of taste altogether (which we already know is a classic COVID symptom), you might find that food tastes odd, or your mouth itself has a strange taste to it. This is called dysgeusia, and it simply indicates a distortion in how one tastes things. It could be metallic or some other not-right flavor, but however it pops up, a December study published in the Neurology Clinical Practice found that more than 60 percent of coronavirus patients in its research had some form of it.
Can I have a mint? Or some gum? Or anything to get my mouth wet? Dry mouth, known as xerostomia, can show up in viral infections. A 2020 study took a look at the high number of ACE2 receptors in salivary glands, and given that these receptors allow the virus to enter the body, it makes sense that the glands' functionality would be compromised when under attack by COVID.
If you're noticing any of these symptoms, it's a good idea to go by "word of mouth" and have them checked out by a medical professional.